Satisfying Cravings in Healthy, Fulfilling Ways

Essays > Health

Excerpt from Tarika Lovegarden’s new book ‘Meditations on the Fridge’.

When I refer to Piggy, I’m referring to the part of you that wants to eat whatever it wants without considering the consequences. When I refer to Watchdog, I’m referring to the part of you that restricts and controls what you eat so that you feel better, lose weight, or whatever your personal reasons to restrict yourself are.

Every craving is a golden opportunity to make choices that make you feel good and give you what you really care about. You can choose to give into your craving, walk away from unhealthy temptations, or choose a healthy alternative. Cravings can be messages from our bodies seeking nutritional balance, or Piggy communicating our deeper needs that can sometimes lead to life changes.

Once you start eating, the fleeting moments of pleasure can make it difficult to stop. You can easily get caught in the one-more-bite syndrome, which, of course, leads to many more, as we’ve all experienced. You can become so engrossed; it can feel like you don’t have a choice. “I have to have ice cream NOW!” It’s important to recognize that you don’t need to fulfill every craving – you can choose how to respond to your impulses.

dealing with food cravings

These meditations connect you with your inner being, so that you can make choices that are right for you. Sometimes you may want to let your craving pass, choose a healthy alternative, or enjoy the foods you’re craving. As you discover what Piggy is really wanting, which is usually something other than food, you can satisfy your needs in more fulfilling ways.

Your success in how you respond to your cravings will dramatically enhance your ability to stop overeating. One reason it’s easier to make healthy choices in the craving phase, before you start eating, is because the foods we crave are usually addictive. The more we give into our cravings the stronger they become.

When we eat something repeatedly, our bodies begin to expect those foods again, and usually at the same time of day. If you eat chocolate every day at 4pm, you’ll likely crave it every afternoon. Becoming mindful in moments of craving enables you to prevent unhealthy habits from forming.

When you fall back into old habits and eat foods that aren’t right for you, it’s important to be compassionate with yourself, learn from your mistakes, forgive yourself, and move on. Forgiveness enables you to get back on track quickly, without spiraling into torturous cycles of addictive eating. I will guide you through a Forgiveness meditation in the next chapter.

Instead of being influenced by old mindsets like, “Since you started, one more cookie isn’t going to make a difference”, you recognize that each craving is an opportunity to care for yourself. Don’t use your mistakes as an excuse to continue eating. Leave the kitchen, the grocery store, or order coffee instead of dessert, whatever you need to do to shift to more fulfilling, fruitful activities.

These meditations give you the ability to choose whether you want to eat and what you want to eat, instead of feeling victimized and out of control. When your choices arise from your inner being, it’s not a question of will power. Your inner strengths are your power. You’re free from battling temptations, giving in, or resisting. You’re connected to what’s important to you; alert to how different foods affect you, and how good it feels to walk away from food when you need to.

Satisfying Cravings in Healthy, Fulfilling Ways is like building a muscle. As you repeatedly choose healthy alternatives, like water instead of soda, or fruit instead of cookies, you become stronger. As you develop this strength, it gets easier, and in time, your cravings disappear, especially when you stop eating the foods that trigger you.

“Should I try another diet? Perhaps I just haven’t found the right one.”

How many times have you committed to a healthy way of eating, only to find yourself taken over by cravings? We’ve all experienced that, especially when we’re dieting and hungry. Watchdog decides to go on diet because it knows you’ll feel better if you lose weight. It’s a logical solution, right? But are you recognizing that Piggy is also trying to make you feel better by eating? Does it work? Perhaps momentarily, but how do you feel after you’ve eaten a big plate of pasta? They’re both trying to care for you in their own, yet often ineffective ways.

When we’re craving we often feel conflicted. Piggy wants whatever it wants, whenever it wants it, and Watchdog restricts our choices and pushes us to exercise. Piggy and Watchdog are vital parts of us. We need to connect with their essence to have a balanced, fulfilling life. You won’t be happy if you reject Piggy! Have you ever tried to get rid of that part? Has it worked?

Their influence upon us is only negative when we’re out of balance. As soon as you connect with their essence they become healing forces of power and love.

I’ve come to adore Piggy by feeling its essence! Piggy’s compassion, warmth, and playfulness feed me every day.

You need to embrace Piggy to successfully overcome cravings. Piggy will crave as long as you neglect it. Cravings are one of the ways Piggy gets your attention, a way of communicating your deeper needs. Cravings are opportunities to turn your attention inward and connect with yourself more deeply.

Cravings are often signals of imbalance from our body and deeper needs. Sometimes cravings are emotional, and sometimes they’re our body’s way of asking for nutrition, or because our body craves more of whatever we eat.

Cravings can signal a need for change. You may need a change in your career or relationship, to move location, or shift your focus in some way. Meditation enables you to recognize and respond to these important messages, whether they’re from your body or deeper needs.

Watchdog needs to be integrated in the same way as Piggy. When you connect to Watchdog’s nature, it gives you clarity and strength. Watchdog may not use cravings to get your attention, but it too is trying to maintain balance. In essence, Watchdog gives you choice. It considers the consequences of your actions and evaluates whether the momentary pleasure of eating pizza is worth having to squeeze into your jeans.

Without Watchdog we’d probably just eat and gain weight. However, Watchdog without the heart is control and deprivation, which causes Piggy to rebel. How long can you control yourself before Piggy starts indulging?

This conflict is what makes dieting a never-ending, losing battle.

Healthy eaters who don’t experience this inner conflict around food may feel conflicted in another area of life. They might struggle with another version of Piggy and Watchdog that expresses itself in their work, how they spend money, or in relationship. For overeaters the conflict between Piggy and Watchdog can sometimes switch from food to another substance or compulsion. A classic example is when a food addict becomes a compulsive shopper, or an alcoholic gives up drinking and starts smoking. Don’t switch your obsession to another substance. Practice the meditations in this chapter, so that you can satisfy your cravings, or let them pass by connecting to your heart.

Excerpt from chapter 9 of Tarika Lovegarden’s Meditations on the Fridge

Related article
Meditations on the Fridge – Courtney Aldor talks to Tarika Lovegarden about her new book, in SF Yoga Mag

TarikaTarika Lovegarden has been sharing meditations since 1994. At fourteen she began by leading Reminding Yourself of the Forgotten Language of Talking to Your Body, Mind in Pune. Trained by her parents, Leela, Prasad, and by Alvina, she has created her own meditation programs to address modern struggles with the body, emotions and food.

Free 3 min Cravings Meditation, shortened version of the 20 min audio program Satisfying Cravings in Healthy, Fulfilling Ways Guided Meditation. Detoxing Your Body, Mindsets and Emotions with Tarika at Osho Miasto (30 Sept – 2 Oct 2016).

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